It isn't all bad news. As a platform, Android keeps getting more efficient at task management, and multitasking is smarter than ever. Still, battery life never seems to live up to our hopes or expectations.
Thankfully, several high-end handsets now have custom touches built in that will adjust settings based on remaining battery life in an effort to squeeze out just a few more minutes. HTC recently introduced a new "extreme power mode" for the One M8 and Samsung has an "ultra power saving" feature in the Galaxy S5. Unfortunately, you have to curtail your usual usage to make the most of these, so they aren't the most convenient for relying on every day.
I have spent time exploring a number of battery-saving apps over the years, and I have become quite fond of a few in particular. Here's a list of five of my favorite apps for prolonging the life of your Android's battery.
Note that there are a few common settings that overlap across the apps, but in this piece, I've tried to highlight some of the features that help separate each app from the pack.
Packed with seemingly endless options, Juice Defender is perhaps my favorite app on this list. The free client lets you manage common connections, such as mobile data as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Multiple preset modes, like "aggressive" and "balanced," allow for toggling and scheduling, background synchronization, and choosing which apps can keep your screen on.
Aside from the free app, Juice Defender also comes in Plus ($1.99) and Ultimate ($4.99) versions.
Depending on what level of control you are looking for, one might be better suited for your needs. The Plus version, for instance, adds "extreme" and "customized" profiles as well as location-aware Wi-Fi, not to mention scheduling for night hours. The Ultimate app also boasts peak hours and weekend settings, autosync, and deeper GPS controls.
Indeed, I definitely recommend the free client as a starting point but have no qualms about endorsing the paid apps.
Standout features: Multiple versions to suit needs, user profiles, scheduling, and location-aware features.
Du Battery Saver & Switch Widget
The Du Battery Saver is an app that extends and improves the battery life for Android devices. With more than 10 million users, the Du Battery Saver app will help users solve their battery problems with easy to use pre-set modes and one-touch controls. Check battery status, health, temperature and more. Simply hit “optimize” and unused background apps will be shutdown. Get up to 50 percent more battery life with Du Battery Saver app.
Easy Battery Saver
Another great battery saver Android app is Easy Battery Saver. In some ways, it works the same Du Battery Save does, but it’s unique in that it gives you a quick status of your battery levels on the main page, giving you fairly accurate analysis on how much more use you can get out of it.
One of the best advantages of Easy Battery Saver is that it lives up to its name — being user friendly is probably one of the best things about it. It’s definitely one of the best battery saver Android apps out there.
One of the more feature-rich free clients I've encountered, Battery Defender offers plenty of options at no cost. It might sound trivial, but I like having the exact battery percentage listed in my notification bar. Far more accurate than what the stock experience usually gives you, it's a simple pleasure.
Battery Defender provides quick and painless access to toggling your common connections such as GPS, Wi-Fi, mobile data, and Bluetooth. I like being able to hop in and turn off the stuff I'm not using -- every little bit helps. While this sort of thing is built into many of today's top Android phones, older or less popular models aren't so fortunate.
Another feature that users will appreciate is Genius Scan, which allows sync to occur every 15 minutes. The adjustable "quiet sleeping" option disables Wi-Fi and data connections at night, a helpful feature for those who do not sleep next to their phones.
Standout features: Easy connections toggling, sleeping mode, staggered sync, and battery percentage in notification bar.
Go Battery Saver & Power Widget
Designed by the Go Dev Team, this one is as gorgeous as it is flexible. A simple tap of the screen lets you toggle preset modes, making it easy to go from reading and relaxing to online gaming. For those who don't like the standard modes, there are two other slots available for creating custom experiences.
Go Battery Saver & Power Widget keeps an eye on your apps to determine which are eating up battery more than others. By assigning a score to your battery, the app is able to determine which features you can enable or disable to extend its life. Tapping the optimize button, in essence, cleans everything up and tacks on some extra expected life. Doing this alone can provide an extra hour or more.
While the free app is stocked with options and settings, the premium pack brings about another dozen features. Available through in-app purchase for $4.99, this upgraded bundle removes ads and tosses in scheduled settings, more control over Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and CPU, and a third "extreme" mode.
The app provides quick access to a number of settings with two home screen widgets. Should you go with the premium option, there are three more widgets to choose from. A number of skins or themes are available for Go Dev's own widgets, and you can also adjust how items appear in the notification bar.
Standout features: Handy widgets, multiple user modes, very clean interface, a steady stream of development updates.
Perhaps the most "risky" app on this list, Autorun Manager lets you determine which apps start running when your phone boots up. Like the aforementioned apps, this one comes in two modes: basic and advanced.
Apps selected in basic mode are terminated immediately when the phone boots, though some will pop back up and start running. My advice here is to leave those alone and let system settings take over. As for the advanced mode, you will find more control over things such as widgets and receivers, and system-wide actions.
The free version of Autorun Manager is supported by ads, but you can purchase a Pro key for $3.99. Doing so will also keep apps from auto-restarting in basic mode, as well as block more than 10 receivers in advanced mode. Just for good measure, you also get "Chuck Norris mode," which lets you kill apps in a more aggressive manner. Please note that if you are on the fence over this app, we suggest you err on the side of caution and pass. For those of you who demand more control and a have firm grasp on Android's core functions, however, this might be right up your alley.
Standout features: Stops pesky apps from starting up, two user modes, clear insight into what runs immediately at bootup, awesome Chuck Norris reference.
Battery Widget Reborn
Battery Widget Reborn is another one of my favorite battery saving Android apps, mainly because it has a lot of features, a notification icon, and some really useful widgets.
Honestly, it’s one of the more thoughtful and well designed battery saving Android apps on Google Play. Additionally, it has the Dashclock Extension that lets you activate your camera flash to use as a flashlight. It’s not like those two features are a must have, but the Dashclock Extension is certainly a nice addition for us Dashclock users.
As for more useful features, there are a few power saving options that automatically kick in during the night while you’re sleeping, such as turning Airplane Mode on. Overall, it’s one of the more useful battery saving Android apps, so check it out.
Battery Doctor (Battery Saver)
Battery Doctor is one of the more popular battery saving apps for Android. Battery Doctor is nice because it not only is designed to speed up your device, but also features a built-in task killer to get rid of the apps taking unneeded space and power in the background, like bloatware that many Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and other carrier branded phones come with.
This battery saver Android app actually shows information very accurately. For example, it will show you how much battery power you have left after shutting down various features on your phone, such as Bluetooth, GPS, Wi-Fi, and etc.
One of the best parts of this app is how accurately it gauges battery levels, and that’s probably one of the best features you could ever get so you actually have an idea of when your device is going to run out of battery, based on your consumption patterns. It’s nice to know how much time you have left, and can be very helpful.
NQ Easy Battery Saver
NQ Easy Battery Saver is a useful app that will extend battery life and speed up your Android phone. New features include a smart assistant, quick settings, battery usage monitor, and an optimization tool that will keep track of running apps. Lock up apps you don’t want to kill, and NQ Easy Battery Saver will take care of the rest.
Of all the apps listed here, Tasker is the one that provides more than just battery extension and task-killing. In fact, I would recommend this one to anyone who wants to help automate the Android experience.
In the area of battery life, I like Tasker; it allows me to set times for sleeping and disabling of connections.
While I generally tend to plug my phone in overnight, Tasker has proven handy in cases where I do not.
Besides time of day, other triggers include day and location; both are useful for people with set work schedules.
I also appreciate the way Tasker lets me set my phone to handle media, texting, phone calls, and other Android functions. It might take a while to fully grasp the capabilities, but at $2.99, this one is a true set-it-and-forget-it app.
Those of you with a Chromecast may enjoy some of the extensions and apps that tie into Tasker. One recently making headlines in the Android space, AutoCast, brings about numerous configurations and settings for Google's HDMI dongle.
Standout features: Automated settings based on time, day, and location; automatic settings for text and calls; clean and clutter-free interface.
Other tips and best practices
Chances are good that you can extend battery life by adjusting a few settings on your device or by following a couple of steps. Switching to airplane mode or turning off features like Bluetooth, NFC, and GPS can eke out a few more minutes of life in a pinch.
Is your phone set to automatically adjust brightness? Are your social media apps constantly pinging for updates? You may surprised at how much control you have over the apps and services on your smartphone.
It's not uncommon for an app developer to introduce a new feature or make an adjustment that impacts the battery. Along those lines, I always recommend updating apps to the latest versions. Sometimes these little "bug fixes" can pay off in big ways.